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Thread: us/our + gerund

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    #11

    Re: us/our + gerund

    Quote Originally Posted by jutfrank View Post
    We would justify them like we always do -- by saying that often the most natural or most frequent way of saying something is not necessarily the most grammatically 'correct'.
    Indeed What I am trying to do, purely for my own interest, is to see whether there is a grammatically 'correct' form

    And by what criteria do we deem something to be acceptable? That's a different (but important) question. At least, it is for teachers.
    I agree. I don't think there is a satisfactory solution to the problem I have raised. That's why I started this thread in the Linguistics forum. This is an academic argument, of little value to learners. It may be of interest, but probably not of value, to most teachers. Our learners encounter sentences such as the red, blue, and green ones in the first post that, in the classroom, I would probably follow your suggestion in post '4.

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    #12

    Re: us/our + gerund

    Quote Originally Posted by Piscean View Post
    What I am trying to do ... is to see whether there is a grammatically 'correct' form
    Are you saying that our talking to him is not a grammatically correct form?

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    #13

    Re: us/our + gerund



    No. In both He doesn't like our talking to him and What if us/our talking to him is just making it worse?,'our' is undoubtedly correct/grammatical. For some; 'us' is also acceptable in the first, and some would argue that it is grammatical. ('We' is undoubtedly wrong.)


    The problem is in the second.

    1. What if our talking to him is just making it worse?
    2. What if us talking to him is just making it worse?
    3. What if we talking to him is just making it worse?
    4. What if we talking to him are just making it worse?



    #1, as I said above is undoubtedly correct/grammatical.
    #2 seems to be to be ungrammatical. There is no possible explanation for the objective accusative form. But - is it acceptable?
    #3
    would appear to be possible if we interpret it as What if (the fact that) we ( are) talking to him is just making it worse)? Is it acceptable?
    #4 would appear to be possible if we interpret it as What if we (,) talking to him(,) are just making it worse)? Is it acceptable?







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    #14

    Re: us/our + gerund

    Okay, I see.

    For me, then, from correctest to incorrectest: 1,4,3,2.

    From most acceptable to least acceptable? Definitely 1 first, and I think I would place 3 next, just because my brain wants 'talking' to be the subject and 'is' agrees with that. Not sure about the order of the final two. I think 4 then finally 2.

    Furthermore, I might order them differently depending on my expectations for a native-speaker compared with a student. And of course there are other factors that could determine acceptability.

    How would you order them?

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    #15

    Re: us/our + gerund

    I think I'd give the same order as you. I say 'I think' because I can't guarantee I'd give the same order next month.

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    #16

    Re: us/our + gerund

    Quote Originally Posted by Piscean View Post
    In another thread, a question was asked about "what if we talking to him are just making it worse?" This got me thinking.


    In He doesn't like us/our talking to him, some people insist that only 'our' is correct, other say that 'us' is perfectly acceptable. Grammatically speaking, either 'us', modified by 'taking', is the direct object of '(doesn't) like)', or 'our talking' is. This is not important for most of us - we use the form we are happy with.
    Gerund-participial clauses as complement of a preposition take either genitive or accusative case, the only difference being that the genitive is more formal (and disliked by many speakers).

    "Like" is a catenative verb, so this is a complex catenative construction – the kind with an intervening NP between the two verbs.

    The intervening accusative NP "us” is the syntactic object of "like", but only the semantic (understood) subject of the subordinate "talking" clause. The NP is thus a raised object since the verb that it relates to syntactically is higher in the constituent structure than the one it relates to semantically. Genitive "our", however, belongs in the subordinate clause as subject.


    Quote Originally Posted by Piscean View Post
    However, we have a different situation with What if us/our talking to him is just making it worse?

    In the blue sentence, there is no problem for those who go for 'our'; '(our) talking' is the subject of the verb 'is making'.
    I agree that both "us" and "our" are possible as subject of the subordinate "talking" clause.


    Quote Originally Posted by Piscean View Post
    However, for those who go for 'us' in the green sentence, 'Us' is not the object of anything. In fact, it's the subject of 'talking'.
    As above, "us" is the syntactic object of "like" but only the semantic (understood) subject of the "talking" clause, while genitive "our" belongs in the subordinate clause.


    Quote Originally Posted by Piscean View Post
    Logically speaking, therefore, it should be: What if we talking to him is just making it worse?

    That red sentence just does not seem right to me. What do others think?
    I agree. Nominative "we" is impossible here since non-finite clauses in complement function take only genitive or accusative subjects (irrespective of whether they are syntactic or semantic subjects).

    Things are different, though, when the non-finite clause is in adjunct function:

    Kim sought advice from Ed, [he/him being the most experienced of her colleagues].

    Here, accusative and nominative (but not genitive) subjects are possible, so both "he" and "him are fine (but not "his").
    Last edited by PaulMatthews; 21-Jan-2018 at 11:14.

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